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Can I Stop Paying Spousal Support If I’m Unemployed?


Many people feel financially overburdened by having to make spousal support payments even when they are gainfully employed, so what happens when you lose your job? There has certainly been an increasing amount of employment instability over the past couple of years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the effects of financial instability can be far-reaching. In fact, when it comes to spousal support, the failure to make your court-ordered monthly payments can have legal repercussions. This can add a great deal of pressure to an already stressful financial situation. Luckily, there are options. However, you must be careful about how you handle this situation to ensure that you do not get in trouble. It can be a good idea to consult with a lawyer before taking any action or making any changes, even if they are financially necessary.

What Can I Do If I can’t Make Spousal Support Payments?

The first thing that you should do after you have lost your job is to file for unemployment benefits. If you receive an amount of unemployment benefits approximately equal to the amount of income that you were earning while employed, you will likely be required to continue making spousal support payments in the same amount. If you receive an amount of unemployment benefits that is less than you were earning previously, you may be able to request a modification to the amount of spousal support you are obligated to pay through the court. However, keep in mind that it is a requirement of unemployment to continue actively looking for work. It is likely best to wait 1-2 months after losing your job and while on unemployment benefits to continue actively looking for work before filing a petition for modification with the court. This is because the court must find that there has been a substantial and continuing change to your income in order to grant a modification to the amount of your payment. If you do not qualify for unemployment benefits and have been unable to find work, it is important to file a request to modify the amount of spousal support that you must pay before you run out of assets to make a monthly payment. If you fail to make a payment, you can face legal repercussions such as being held in contempt of court. The fact that you lost your job or lacked sufficient assets will not be an acceptable excuse. It bears repeating that losing your job does not give you the right to stop making payments. You must take actions including filing for unemployment, trying to find other means of income, and filing a request for modification with the court before any payments are missed. For this reason, it is critical to be proactive and speak with an attorney before your situation turns dire.

Contact Bubley & Bubley, P.A. Today

If you have lost your job or need your spousal support or alimony payments modified for any reason, it’s important to have an experienced advocate on your side. Contact the Tampa family lawyers at Bubley & Bubley, P.A. today to schedule a consultation.



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